Author: MLI Environmental

A Pocket Guide: E-Waste Disposal Methods

E-waste disposal methods refer to the systematic handling and managing of electronic waste streams created by or resulting from discarded or obsolete electronic devices and equipment. Essentially, this would include anything that runs on electricity or contains electronic components. Electronic waste, or e-waste, is considered the fastest-growing waste stream worldwide. Estimates of over 50 million tons of e-waste are generated each year. Companies and organizations must establish proper e-waste disposal methods to prevent dangerous or hazardous materials from damaging the environment or ecosystem. 

What Is Considered E-Waste?

The category of e-waste encompasses a wide range of products, from small consumer electronics like smartphones, tablets, chargers, and laptops to larger appliances like refrigerators, microwaves, flat-panel TVs, and washing machines. However, e-waste streams can be extensive for companies and organizations, including desktop computers, CPUs, computer monitors, servers, motherboards, keyboards, cables, and accessories. Electrical and electronic components like circuit boards, batteries, surge protectors, and wiring for office equipment like printers, photocopiers, scanners, lighting fixtures, and even fax machines. 

Properly Managing E-Waste

With over 50 million tons of e-waste generated annually, the need for its proper disposal has never been greater. It’s also the law. Many electronic devices contain harmful elements such as lead, cadmium, beryllium oxide, chromium, or mercury and harmful compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons, brominated flame retardants, or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Dangers arise from accumulation of elements and chemicals in soil, water, and food, but also from inhalation of toxic fumes. When improperly disposed of, these toxins can leach into the environment and pose risks to human health and ecosystems, putting people, land, and sea animals at risk. 

Responsible management of hazardous materials to mitigate the environmental and health risks associated with e-waste should be a priority for companies and organizations. Industries ranging from healthcare and research, microelectronics, banking and finance to the telecommunications sectors, contract manufacturers, educational institutions, and government offices routinely generate e-waste that must be properly disposed of. 

How to Dispose of E-Waste

Efforts to address e-waste disposal vary. The best e-waste disposal methods prioritize environmental sustainability, recycling programs, legislation to regulate its disposal, and partnering with e-waste service providers to manage waste streams. Effective e-waste disposal methods include:

Reuse, Refurbish, Resell, or Donate

This is by far the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of e-waste. Before disposing of older or dated equipment, explore opportunities to reuse or refurbish electronic devices. If your computer is still functional, consider upgrading it rather than disposing of it. Otherwise, it can be donated or sold to organizations and charities that accept used electronics for refurbishment and distribution to underserved communities.


Proper recycling of e-waste is one of the leading methods of disposal. It involves breaking down electronic devices into their component parts and recycling or reusing them. Components like metals, plastics, glass, and circuit boards can be extracted and reused to manufacture new electronics. If your company is generating large quantities of e-waste, it must be disposed of properly by law. Consult with your local or state Department of Environmental Protection or ask your hazardous waste management service provider about e-waste recycling programs. E-waste recycling centers employ environmentally responsible methods to extract valuable materials while safely disposing of hazardous substances.

Take-Back and Trade-In Programs

Many electronics manufacturers, companies, and retailers offer take-back programs, which accept old devices and equipment for recycling when you purchase a new one. Some companies may offer a discount when trading older devices for newer ones. These programs help ensure responsible disposal and the proper recycling of e-waste.

Legislation and Regulation Compliance

Be aware of and comply with local, national, and international e-waste disposal regulations and guidelines. Maine has specific laws governing electronic waste disposal to protect the environment and human health.

Contact the Professional E-Waste Service Providers at MLI Environmental

As e-waste contains hazardous materials, companies, and organizations have a cradle-to-grave responsibility to dispose of those materials properly. Companies and organizations that generate e-waste must comply with e-waste disposal regulations. E-waste service providers not only help companies manage their e-waste stream but can help ensure compliance.   

MLI Environmental assists its customers with managing their electronic waste to provide a more sustainable practice for their business. We offer services like e-scrap, which collects unwanted or outdated electronics that can be recycled. We can dispose of universal waste like batteries, ballasts, and fluorescent lamps. If your facility has security measures to dispose of sensitive material securely, we can securely dispose of electronic equipment that holds important data for your company.

At MLI Environmental, we know that proper e-waste disposal methods can help promote the sustainable use of electronic resources. By promoting responsible e-waste management, we protect both the environment and human health and reduce the negative impacts of electronic waste on our communities. For more information on our e-waste disposal programs, contact MLI Environmental today.

Why You Need a Hazmat Emergency Response Plan in Place

Hazmat emergency response plans are required by law for any company, business, or institution that works with hazardous materials. Operators and personnel at facilities that manage hazardous materials must know what to do and how to react in the event that an accident occurs. At a minimum, plans should outline a set of procedures, protocols, and responsibilities to ensure a correct response to any incidents that involve hazardous materials. 

The list of hazardous materials is lengthy, but suffice it to say that it includes various chemicals, gases, flammable liquids, radioactive substances, and other dangerous materials that pose a significant risk to human health, the environment, and property if not handled properly. Types of hazmat incidents can vary widely, too, from exposure to toxic substances and explosions to fires and gas leaks that could prove dangerous to individuals within and around the vicinity of a facility, plant, or lab. 

If you’re at a facility managing hazardous substances and materials, here’s why it’s important for your company or institution to have a hazmat emergency response plan in place:

Public Health and Safety 

The primary goal of a hazmat emergency response plan is to protect public health and safety. It not only provides for the safety of anyone on the property—staff,  personnel, employees, visitors—but the community at large and the surrounding environment. Having such a response plan in place beforehand can effectively manage, if not avert, a potential large-scale or widespread disaster, too. A well-defined plan also ensures that responders know what they are dealing with to quickly and effectively mitigate the risks and minimize potential harm to people. 

Employee Safety

OSHA established regulations mandate hazmat emergency response plans in any workplace where hazardous materials are utilized.  If an incident occurs in a workplace, that plan is essential to protect the safety of employees and workers. Plans should be designed to anticipate, identify, evaluate, and control any kind of safety and health hazards. They should also provide for emergency response for hazardous waste operations—evacuation procedures, any type of personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements for personnel, and other safety measures in order to prevent injuries and illnesses among personnel involved in the response efforts.

Environmental Protection

Mishandling hazardous materials can lead to an environmental disaster or contamination that could have long-lasting negative effects on ecosystems and natural resources. The EPA and state agencies oversee emergency management activities and regulations to help protect the environment and human health from incidental or accidental releases or discharges of chemicals, gases, oil, and other hazardous substances. An emergency response plan should address proper containment and mitigation measures to prevent or minimize the release of hazardous substances into the environment, and also to help prevent contamination of soil, water, and air.

Regulatory Compliance 

As indicated above, companies, industries, and institutions that deal in hazardous material or generate hazardous waste are subject to federal and state regulations that govern the proper handling, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous materials. A comprehensive hazmat emergency response plan is one component that demonstrates compliance with the regulatory guidelines that govern the management of hazardous materials. Having a plan in place may also help companies avoid legal penalties in the event of an incident.

Effective Coordination and Response

Like most emergency situations, the scene at a hazmat emergency is sure to be somewhat chaotic and unpredictable, and will likely involve multiple agencies, departments, and first responders. A well-developed plan is vital to ensure that responders know their roles and responsibilities in order to take immediate action to contain and minimize exposure of hazardous material to people, property and the environment. A plan also ensures effective coordination, communication and collaboration between different agencies and departments for a well-coordinated response effort.

Reduce the Economic Impact

A well-executed emergency response to a hazmat situation can help minimize or limit the economic consequences of a hazmat accident. Incidents that involve unchecked containment can lead to substantial economic losses relating to public health, property damage, disruption of business operations, cleanup costs, and potential legal liabilities. Having a plan in place can facilitate a rapid response that effectively contains and mitigates efforts.

Though companies, businesses, and institutions need a hazmat emergency response plan in place because it is mandated by federal and state laws, having a response plan is critical for ensuring public health and safety, for protecting the environment, and for minimizing the economic impact of hazardous material incidents on both human health and the broader community. 

Working with a qualified professional waste management service can help ensure an emergency plan is in place for your facility should an incident occur. MLi Environmental can prepare a hazmat emergency response plan tailored to your company’s hazardous material needs that will ensure correct steps are taken to contain and mitigate a hazmat situation. We provide comprehensive hazardous waste management services and solutions throughout New England. For more information or to learn how MLI Environmental can help your company develop a comprehensive hazmat emergency response plan for your facility, contact us today.

Hazardous Drugs in Retail Pharmacy: What You Need to Know

Once expired, contaminated, or damaged, by law, all hazardous drugs in a pharmacy must be properly disposed of as hazardous waste. Types of hazardous drugs generated by a retail pharmacy can vary, but, in general, they contain active ingredients derived from plants, animals, or synthetic compounds manufactured through chemical synthesis or combined with other specific chemical ingredients. Proper disposal of these drugs is necessary, as the waste may pose a risk to human health or the environment due to their potentially hazardous properties.

What Is Hazardous in Retail Pharmacy?

As hazardous drug waste may contain toxic, flammable, reactive, corrosive, or infectious substances, retail pharmacies need to handle, store, and dispose of hazardous waste properly to minimize the potential risks associated with the drugs. Additionally, primary considerations for retail, pharmaceutical waste include determining which drugs must be managed and disposed of as hazardous waste, as a controlled substance, or require other special waste management considerations. 

Multiple agencies, including EPA, DOT, DEA, OSHA, State Environmental Protection Agencies, and State Pharmacy Boards, among other potential local boards or agencies, regulate retail pharmacies. Compliance with regulations is mandatory for retail pharmacies and vital to avoid penalties and fines and damage to their reputation.

Not all potentially hazardous drugs are subject to regulation as waste require a prescription, either. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be purchased at numerous retail stores and shops other than a local pharmacy or a national chain like CVS or Walgreens. These days, retail pharmacies are located in grocery stores and department stores like Shaw’s, Hannaford’s, Target or Walmart. Nearly all retail establishments, from gas stations, corner convenience stores, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar to Home Depot and OfficeMax sell over-the-counter cold and flu medicines, pain relievers, heartburn medications, digestive aids and laxatives, allergy relief tablets, dietary supplements, and specialty medicines and vitamins that may be subject to regulation.

What You Need to Know

If you are operating a retail pharmacy or store that sells medicines and medications you need to know that there may be certain types of drugs, under certain conditions, that will need to be disposed of as a hazardous waste. In particular:

Expired medications and vaccines: Once prescription drugs or vaccines, or over-the-counter medications have passed their expiration dates they are considered hazardous waste. They may lose their effectiveness or become chemically unstable, posing risks if consumed or improperly disposed of.

Contaminated or damaged medications and vaccines: Medications and vaccines that have been contaminated or damaged through spills, leaks, or exposure to moisture, or mold or mildew, may become hazardous waste. This includes drugs in broken or leaking containers or those that have been tampered with.

Chemotherapy drugs: Retail pharmacies that handle and dispense chemotherapy drugs generate hazardous waste. These drugs are highly toxic and require specialized handling and disposal methods to protect both staff and the environment.

Hazardous chemicals: Retail pharmacies routinely use chemicals for compounding medications or for cleaning purposes. Many solvents, disinfectants, and cleaning agents can be highly flammable, hazardous and need to be properly managed and disposed to prevent harm to people and the environment.

Sharps waste: The proper disposal of sharp objects used for medical applications in pharmacies, such as needles, syringes, and lancets, are considered a hazardous waste. Sharps need to be properly handled and disposed of to prevent injuries and the spread of infections.

Management and Disposal

Proper management and disposal of hazardous wastes in retail pharmacies and stores involve several key steps beginning with separation of hazardous drug waste from other types of waste. Segregating the wastes prevents contamination and minimizes risks to people. Stores and pharmacies should have specially labeled containers or storage areas specifically designated for hazardous waste.

Proper Labeling: Clearly labeling containers with appropriate hazardous waste labels ensures that the people tasked with handling the waste are aware of the contents and potential hazards. Labels should include information such as the type of waste, associated risks, and proper handling instructions.

Storage: Hazardous waste should be stored in a secure, well-ventilated area that is inaccessible to unauthorized individuals. It is crucial to follow any local, state, or federal regulations regarding the storage of hazardous waste.

Transportation and Disposal: All waste designated as hazardous at retail pharmacies, shops, and stores needs to be safely transported off-site for treatment or disposal. Businesses should consider benefits from partnering with companies certified in hazardous waste management, transportation, and disposal. A licensed waste disposal company like MLi Environmental arranges pickup and transport of pharmaceutical drug waste to authorized hazardous waste disposal facilities. These facilities employ methods that minimize environmental impact and comply with relevant regulations.

Hazardous drug waste includes medications, vaccines, and other products that may be prescribed or purchased over-the-counter that are expired, damaged, or otherwise unusable by a retail pharmacy. All retail establishments must comply with and operate within the established regulatory framework, including proper handling, storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste.

MLI Environmental offers comprehensive solutions for managing hazardous drug waste in retail environments. Our professional team packages, characterizes and transports nearly all types of hazardous waste for proper disposal to ensure your business remains compliant with local, state, and federal regulations. For more information, contact MLI Environmental today.

Best Practices for Pharmaceutical Hazardous Waste Management: A Guide for Hazardous Waste Generators

Pharmaceutical hazardous waste management is a serious issue businesses cannot overlook. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pharmaceutical waste is generated in large quantities nationwide, leading to potential environmental and health risks. Therefore, hazardous waste generators must embrace proper management strategies to safeguard themselves, their employees, and the environment. This blog will delve into 6 best practices associated with pharmaceutical hazardous waste management.

Best Practices for Pharmaceutical Hazardous Waste Management

1. Proper Labeling

A crucial first step to managing hazardous pharmaceutical waste is ensuring proper labeling. All hazardous waste materials must have a label affixed to their container specifying the type and level of danger posed. Doing so makes it easier for hazardous waste management personnel to handle and dispose of the waste safely.

2. Safe Storage

Secure storage is a vital aspect of waste management. This ensures that the waste remains contained and separated from regular trash until properly disposed of. All hazardous waste generators must provide designated storage containers, and waste must be stored securely to prevent unauthorized access.

3. Secure Destruction

Secure destruction is another preferred method for managing certain types of pharmaceutical waste. Under this method, waste materials are destroyed using a shredder, grinder, or chemical process. The remaining materials are treated to neutralize harmful chemicals, rendering them safe to dispose of.

4. Regular Training of Employees

A fundamental aspect of hazardous waste management is employee training. Management should train employees on proper handling procedures, waste labeling, and safe storage techniques. Regular training updates help ensure compliance with regulations and safe waste management practices.

5. Segregate Pharmaceutical Waste

Segregating pharmaceutical hazardous waste is essential to ensure that different types of waste do not mix. This can help prevent unexpected chemical reactions that can cause dangerous toxic gases or fires. Also, some pharmaceutical hazardous waste can be recycled or repurposed, so separating certain materials can make it easier to repurpose them.

6. Partner with a Reliable Service Provider

Partnering with a hazardous waste disposal service provider like MLI Environmental can help you manage your hazardous waste safely and efficiently. Hazardous waste disposal companies offer various services, including collecting hazardous waste, segregating hazardous materials, labeling, packaging, and transportation.

Contact the Pharmaceutical Waste Experts at MLI Environmental

Pharmaceutical hazardous waste management requires careful planning and execution to mitigate hazards and keep employees and the environment safe. However, the process can be overwhelming for businesses. MLI Environmental offers comprehensive hazardous waste management services to help hazardous waste generators comply with state and federal regulations. We provide various services, such as pharmaceutical waste disposal, hazardous waste transportation and disposal, and onsite waste management. We are committed to ensuring that our clients remain compliant while minimizing the environmental impact of their waste. Contact us today, and let us handle all your hazardous waste management needs.

How to Reduce Your Waste Generator Status

Hazardous waste generator status is assigned to any company or institution that produces hazardous waste. Status, in effect, is a designation which is determined by the volume of hazardous waste accumulated at a facility or site in a calendar month. In other words, companies that generate hazardous waste are regulated based on the volume of waste they generate each month, not the size of their business or facility. 

If you are a hazardous waste generator, then it is your company’s or organization’s responsibility to ensure that the waste is disposed of properly and safely, or risk heavy fines and possible irreversible damage to your company’s reputation. Hazardous waste is regulated by the EPA, as well as state and local environmental agencies, to ensure protection of human health and the environment. Compliance with hazardous waste regulations ensures said protection of people and places by reducing and eliminating harmful environmental risks. 

The price to pay for having hazardous waste generator status can be expensive. As the EPA regulates hazardous waste from cradle to grave, from the point of its generation and storage to its safe transport, treatment, and disposal, costs associated with its safe management are borne by the generators.  Because the expense for the ultimate disposal of hazardous wastes can be high, it is in the self-interest of businesses to reduce the volume of hazardous waste they generate each month. Not only is it easier to manage and reduces environmental risks, but it’s less expensive. 

Status Categories

The EPA recognizes that the volume of hazardous waste generators produce monthly differs from business to business. Because generator status is linked to the amount of waste generated per month, the EPA established three categories of generators. They are: Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQGs) generate 220 lbs or less of hazardous waste per month. For Small Quantity Generator (SQGs) status it’s more than 220 lbs of hazardous waste per month but less than 2,200 lbs. Large Quantity Generators (LQGs) generate 2,200 lbs or more each month. Each status is subject to varying degrees of regulations that govern storage and management of waste.

Ways to Reduce Generator Status

1. Generate Less

One way a company can reduce its hazardous waste generator status is to generate less of it. Though that may sound somewhat oversimplified, it’s more about scaling down usage or finding suitable material substitutions that are non-hazardous. Begin by identifying hazardous materials your company is currently using and assess whether there are less hazardous alternatives available. Then, determine whether there are non-hazardous materials with similar properties to replace what hazardous material you currently use. For example, consider using less hazardous materials such as biodegradable detergents, chromium-based cleaners, or latex paints and coatings. Avoid metal catalysts wherever possible and purchase premixed chemicals with desired concentrations to avoid unwanted accumulation of multiple chemicals. 

2. Purchase Less

Though there may be economic incentives for companies to purchase hazardous materials in bulk, stockpiling materials may increase disposal costs. If you have too much hazardous material on-hand it can adversely affect your status as a generator, if your plan is to reduce that status. If the properties of the stockpiled material expires before using, the excess will increase the disposal cost. If you are overstocked on chemicals, paints, or other like material which holds hazardous properties, consider donating the material to organizations that may have use for it. 

3. Consolidate Waste Streams

Another way to reduce your generator status is by combining waste streams. Consolidating compatible waste materials into a larger or appropriate sized shipping container means that there are a fewer number of containers to ship, which may lower the amount of weight of the total monthly waste generated, and definitely lower the handling and transportation costs. Less units to inspect also reduces your compliance liability in the event that a container does not meet regulatory guidelines. That said, to avoid a dangerous chemical reaction, you can only consolidate hazardous wastes that are compatible. Never mix hazardous wastes without first consulting with our experts at our hazardous waste management company. 

4. Recycling

Recycling or reusing valuable constituents of hazardous waste is another way to lessen the capital costs in managing hazardous waste. Recycling reduces the amount of materials to be disposed of and, by reducing that amount, lowers any risk to the environment. Some hazardous wastes can be blended into fuel, which has an added benefit of reducing fossil fuel consumption while effectively repurposing the material for use. 

How MLI Environmental Can Help

Companies and organizations seeking ways to reduce their hazardous waste generator status not only lower costs associated with managing waste, but help mitigate risks to human health and the environment. Generating less hazardous waste, purchasing less of it, consolidating waste streams when applicable, or recycling or repurposing it are a handful of options to consider.

If you are a hazardous waste generator interested in reducing your status, contact MLI Environmental. As one of the most trusted hazardous waste disposal companies in the region, our audit programs help healthcare facilities, schools, universities, manufacturers, laboratories and more, identify costs and ways that may reduce their generator status. For more information, call MLI Environmental today.

Regulation and Management of Solar Panel Waste

No sense of irony is lost when the discussion turns to hazardous solar panel waste. Long cited as a clean energy source and an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuel, it turns out that there’s a catch. Certain types of solar panels are manufactured with hazardous waste materials—toxic heavy metals—and, at the end of their service life, must be managed following RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) regulations that cover solid waste disposal.

Solar panels generate electricity safely without releasing any pollutants or other emissions into the air. However, like any device, they will eventually wear out. A solar panel’s expected service life is approximately 30 years, give or take. When that happens, the panels must be properly recycled or disposed of due to some of the associated material waste used in manufacturing them.

Types of Solar Panel Material

It’s related to the interconnected photovoltaic cells that the solar panel modules are composed of. The small, thin semiconductor devices made from silicon and other materials convert the sun’s radiant energy to electricity. There are several types of solar panel models manufactured for consumers, and it is important to note that not all are hazardous. The four main types of panels are manufactured with monocrystalline silicon, polycrystalline silicon, cadmium telluride (CdTe), and the newer thin-film types such as copper indium gallium selenide (CIS/CIGS). Any solar panel brands manufactured with the latter two materials are considered hazardous, as are panels with gallium arsenide (GaAs), an arsenic material, and older silicon-based solar panels coated with hexavalent chromium.

In short, some materials used in manufacturing PV panels consist of small amounts of toxic heavy metals—lead, selenium, chromium, cadmium, and arsenic—all of which are potentially leachable. As a solid waste, in the big picture, disposing of one or two panels at a time in the local landfill may pose little, if any, risk to the environment. The problem, however, is in the sheer volume of panels soon to be discarded. With the end of the service life of the solar panels installed in the 1980s and 1990s, projections are that by 2030, the US alone will generate more than one million total tons of solar panel waste. These numbers pose a significant environmental risk by leaching heavy metals into the water table if disposed of in landfills. That amount is expected to grow to an estimated 10 million total tons of panels by 2050.

Solar Panel Disposal

Once a solar panel is ready for disposal, it is classified as solid waste. It is regulated by both the RCRA on a federal level and through state and local government programs. Any solid wastes that contain hazardous materials like cadmium, lead, arsenic, and other heavy metals are subject to a TCLP test—a toxicity characteristic leaching procedure—to determine its potential hazard. Solar panels that fail the TCLP test are considered hazardous and must be disposed of as defined by the law.

If your company or business manufactures, installs, or derives its energy from solar panels containing hazardous materials, then it’s possible those panels must be disposed of as hazardous waste. If the panels do not contain hazardous material, proper disposal may be subject to municipal waste guidelines or recycling. Having a management plan in place is essential and knowing the requirements that affect your company. As the solar panel waste stream grows exponentially, expect regulations to change and evolve with new legislation and updates on managing and disposing of solar panel waste properly.

Solar Panel Waste Management With MLI Environmental

Keeping pace with changes in regulations can be time-consuming and costly for businesses to manage on an individual basis. That’s where MLI Environmental can help. We provide cost-effective hazardous waste management services to companies large and small. MLI takes a personalized approach to your company’s specific needs and offers safe and responsible solutions.

If your company faces challenges presented by solar panel waste, consider partnering with a hazardous waste management company that can help you safely manage and discard solar panel waste. Contact MLI Environmental today to learn how our trained professionals can help.  

How to Properly Dispose of Hand Sanitizer Waste

In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, proper hand sanitizer disposal has emerged as a hazardous waste concern for many municipalities, facilities, businesses, and institutions everywhere. Ironically, what was once viewed as a simple yet effective means to control the spread of infection from contact sources has become a major hazardous waste management problem. The amount of hand sanitizer produced far exceeded its possible use before expiration. Now, the excess hand sanitizer needs to be disposed of properly. Highly flammable and, in some instances, toxic, what was once deemed indispensable is now a hazardous waste. 

What Makes Hand Sanitizer Hazardous?

Hand sanitizer’s classification as a hazardous waste is due to its flammable properties derived from its alcohol content. Alcohol has long been used as an antiseptic. The majority of today’s hand sanitizers on the market contain a minimum of 60% and up to 95% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol that, mixed with water and glycol and glycerin gels, can not only sanitize your hands but can be exceptionally volatile if ignited. 

Hand sanitizers with a 60% minimum alcohol content follow a CDC recommendation from the revised hand hygiene guidelines published in 2002. The reason is that high alcohol content would adequately sanitize the hands of healthcare personnel and the average user when soap and warm water are unavailable. 

Because it is a hazardous waste, excess and expired hand sanitizer must be stored and disposed of following hazardous waste guidelines because it is a hazardous waste; due to the alcohol content, hand sanitizers are classified as a Class 3 Flammable Liquid. OSHA regulations, for example, state that hand sanitizers cannot be stored in offices or public buildings. Large amounts of hand sanitizer totaling 25 gallons or more, whether in 5-gallon buckets or 5 oz. containers must be stored in flammable liquid storage cabinets. 

Hazardous Waste Concerns of Hand Sanitizer

Disposal is another issue. For households, though it would be best to dispose of expired hand sanitizer at the town’s household hazardous waste center, if need be, small amounts of hand sanitizer can be discarded in the regular trash. Do not pour hand sanitizer down the sink or flush down the toilet. Because the isopropyl or ethyl alcohol in the hand sanitizer is an environmental hazard and flammable, it can damage the infrastructure at the local wastewater treatment plant or, if applicable, seep into your groundwater.

Even more problematic than residential hand sanitizer disposal is the waste disposal of large amounts of hand sanitizer. Industrial and commercial quantities of unused or expired hand sanitizer must be disposed of as hazardous waste. Proper handling and disposal is required by law. The vapor alone generated by gallons of alcohol-based sanitizer is highly explosive and could be catastrophic if emptied into a local sewer system. 

Another hazardous waste concern with hand sanitizers is those that contain methanol, 1-propanol, or other contaminants. The FDA has issued public warnings to consumers and health care providers over manufacturers that have falsely labeled some hand sanitizers as ethanol (or ethyl alcohol) that have actually tested positive for containing methanol (methyl alcohol) instead. Methanol, known as wood alcohol, makes antifreeze, fuels, and solvents. It is a volatile, highly flammable, toxic substance that can be easily absorbed through the skin or, if accidentally ingested, can be life-threatening. The multi-purpose industrial solvent 1-propanol is also highly flammable. The fumes from 1-propanol hand sanitizer can cause respiratory irritation, affect the central nervous system, and be harmful if accidentally swallowed or incidental eye contact occurs. 

Contact the Hazardous Waste Experts at MLI Environmental

When the demand for hand sanitizer exploded during the pandemic, it was unimaginable that it could lead to a hazardous waste problem or possibly require hazardous waste disposal and management. Today, many manufacturers, healthcare facilities, schools, universities, office complexes, businesses, laboratories, and so forth likely store excess or expired quantities of hand sanitizer that must be properly disposed of. MLI Environmental offers a comprehensive and informative waste audit and analysis if your company or institution is confronting such an excess hand sanitizer dilemma. We also offer waste disposal solutions to resolve excess hand sanitizer safely. Contact MLI Environmental for more information.

When Do You Need to Acquire a Hazardous Waste Permit?

With few exceptions, facilities and businesses that produce hazardous waste must acquire a hazardous waste permit. Any facility or business that generates, treats, stores, or disposes of hazardous wastes, or has plans to do so on an ongoing basis, must carry a hazardous waste permit. Though the EPA regulates hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), most hazardous waste permits are issued through state environmental agencies under the guidelines of the RCRA hazardous waste program. In some instances, permits are issued by EPA regional offices.


Understanding the EPA’S “PFAS Strategic Roadmap” as a Hazardous Waste Generator

Recognition of the threat from PFAS contamination finally culminated with a 2018 CDC review that confirmed what decades of research had already indicated—that PFAS contamination is a serious threat to human health and the environment. In response to the review, in October of 2021, the EPA implemented its PFAS Strategic Roadmap to take specific actions along with a commitment to a range of policies that safeguard public health, protect the environment, and will finally hold polluters accountable. (more…)

Learn the Basics of Compliant Hazardous Waste Training

Hazardous waste training is mandated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) under the authority of the EPA. If your facility generates any hazardous waste, to comply with the law, the act requires that employees who handle the waste be adequately trained. Given the immense consequences at stake—environmental, health and safety, financial, legal, and ethical—the responsibility of proper hazardous waste training for employees should be a top priority for facilities that generate hazardous waste.

By law, those employees handling hazardous wastes must complete a training program either through classroom instruction, computer-based online training, or through direct on-the-job training. All activity must be directed by a person trained in hazardous waste management procedures. The program must teach them to perform their duties in such a way as to ensure the facility complies. At a minimum, the training curriculum must ensure that facility personnel are capable of responding effectively to emergencies. They must be familiarized with emergency procedures, equipment, and systems.

To ensure that your personnel is well prepared to deal with an emergency, training staff should focus on several areas, including:

Site Specific Training

The RCRA regulations cover a wide variety of topics in hazardous waste training. Training regulations not only vary depending on the size and quantity of the monthly hazardous waste generated at a facility but on state laws and regulations, too. Some states may have more exacting requirements than federal law mandates. To meet all necessary regulations, ensure that personnel is trained to comply with the laws specific to your site’s location.

How To Respond To Emergencies

Emergency response is at the core of hazardous waste training, as responding to an emergency could be the difference between life and death. Because every hazardous waste generator is required by law to formulate an emergency contingency plan, as part of training, employees must have a thorough and detailed understanding of the plan and an actionable response to an emergency. Training would include procedures to minimize hazards and reduce risks to human health and the environment during the emergency. Personnel should have contact information and emergency phone numbers on hand, emergency equipment readily available, and additional emergency procedures related to the specific properties of the hazardous waste generated at the facility.

Training in Handling, Storage, and Disposal

Staff training in storing and handling hazardous waste generated at your facility should be at the core of their curriculum. Employees that work for hazardous waste generators must be thoroughly and adequately trained in handling and storing waste. In addition to covering all the various types and classifications of hazardous waste, the specific type of hazardous waste generated at your site, its properties, and associated risks is a topic that should be covered at length. However, several general issues need to be covered as well. Training should instruct employees in identifying hazardous wastes, selecting the correct storage container, where they should be located, knowing how to separate chemicals to prevent a reaction properly, and the procedures for transporting waste to a disposal site, among other topics.

Labeling Procedures and Protocols

Proper labeling is one of the many essential steps to safely handle, store, and ship hazardous waste. Therefore, knowing how to label hazardous waste properly is an integral part of training. To ultimately dispose of hazardous waste, generators must comply with EPA regulations and meet DOT (Department of Transportation) requirements for shipping. In addition, personnel must also be familiar with any state and local agency labeling requirements.

In training, employees must know how to correctly prepare a label and learn best practices for its placement on containers. Note that among the primary purposes of brands is to inform potential handlers of the hazardous risks of the material and ensure that incompatible materials are not stored or transported together. Hazardous waste label requirements can vary from state to state. In general, they include such information as the date when the accumulation of hazardous waste began, the type of material, its composition and current physical state, and the generator’s name and address. The label should visually indicate the primary hazard, as well.

Training is Ongoing

By law, RCRA hazardous waste regulations require annual training for designated hazardous waste personnel. However, ongoing training should be part of every program, as much because federal and state laws continue to change, as a way to stay on top of procedures and protocols to effectively manage hazardous waste at your facility. Managers should meet with staff to go over new laws and regulations and how they impact your facility whenever they are enacted. Establishing regular hazardous walk-through programs can help keep procedures and protocols fresh or identify areas in managing dangerous waste that must be addressed. Ongoing training of designated personnel will ensure that your facility complies with the law and that those employees are ready in an emergency.

MLI Environmental provides hazardous waste training services to help your facility stay compliant. To learn more, please get in touch with us today.